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Finally some common sense as Off Grid Solar and Rooftop Solar to get priority in India’s JNNSM Phase 2

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India’s federal solar subsidy policy JNNSM Phase 2 will see a shift in emphasis from large solar farms to grid connected solar rooftop and off grid solar projects. Note JNNSM Phase 1  saw 1100 MW of solar projects awarded through a reverse auction over 2 batches in Phase 1. Almost all the solar projects were large megawatt solar farms awarded to big energy producers or solar developers. Greenworldinvestor had criticized the policy of supporting solar ground mounted projects as the current trend is to support distributed solar rooftop projects all over the world. However some good common sense has made the Indian Government now look towards supporting smaller solar panel installations over the utility scale solar projects. The funding will be done through the recently set up Solar Energy Corporation of India and through Generation Based Incentives. Note Gujarat which has the most successful solar power policy in India has also announced a number of solar rooftop schemes in different cities.

What Indian Solar Energy needs – Focus on Small Distributed Rooftop and Off Grid Solar

Solar Energy incentives in most of the developed solar markets in Europe have clearly shifted their preference to distributed small rooftop solar installations on residences. This is because it reduces the need for expensive power generation infrastructure, improves reliability and puts money in the hands of the common citizens. Spain, Germany and Italy which are the 3 biggest markets in the world have done this. India however has not paid any focus to rooftop solar installations except for Delhi. Electricity in India is not only expensive but also highly unreliable and of low quality. Low voltages and blackouts of 10 hours are not uncommon .Having a reliable home based source of power would be attractive to most people in India even at higher costs (note electricity tariffs have been outgrowing inflation). It would also lead to reduced losses in the power transmission which is the highest in the world at around 30%. The advantages of promoting residential solar is much more however the policymakers have not given enough thought with half of the subsidies going to Solar Thermal Technology, which is fast losing out to Solar PV technology. India’s solar policy makes it clear that the decision makers do not have enough knowledge about the developments in this fast paced solar energy sector to make the optimum decisions.


Grid connected rooftop solar projects will come in a big way in the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru national solar mission (JNNSM) and there will be a huge impetus to off-grid solar applications, said Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary, ministry of new and renewable energy at the 6th Renewable Energy Expo.In the second phase, government plans to add 3,000 mw of solar power to the current capacity of 1100 mw. It also plans to roll out new means of financing for the solar projects. “” We plan to include various financing measures along with power bundling with conventional power like viability-gap funding (Vgf) and generation-based incentives. Vgf will be given greater importance and the newly formed Solar energy corporation of India (SECI) will take care of it,”” said Kapoor.

Advantages of Solar farms over rooftop solar installations

1) Lower Cost and  Scale – The greater scale of these plants allows lower installations compared to smaller installations. The costs  are reduced in permitting, maintenance as well.

2) Use of Disturbed Land – Solar Farms can be built on disturbed land like in Germany where they have been built on former airbases.

3)Utility Friendly – Large Solar Farms are controlled by utilities or IPPs while rooftop solar is generally in the ownership of residential owners or commercial owners. This results in less pushback from utilities which generally control transmission and allow easier acceptance of solar energy.

Disadvantages of Solar farms over rooftop solar installations

1) Long Delays in Permitting, Environment Clearance, Land Siting – Large Solar Farms have to go through a myriad of regulations and clearances. There have also been instances of lawsuits against solar thermal and solar PV plants in California by wildlife and environmental groups as well as local Indian tribes.

2) Electricity Transmission Costs – Grid Connection leads to additional costs for solar farms while rooftop solar can use existing transmission infrastructure.

3) Less Grid Stability – A Large Part of Distributed Solar is consumed locally while Farms supply 100% to the grid. That makes managing the grid difficult when solar penetration increases.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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